The Bruno Manser Fund wants Sarawak Energy Bhd to declare its finances, contracts and funders linked to the development of mega dams in Sarawak.
Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), which has been at the
forefront of a global campaign against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib
Mahmud’s land “development” policy which has stripped the state’s
verdant rainforest and displaced thousands of indigenous natives, is
calling for an independent external review of the Bakun, Bengoh and
Batang Ai dams.
It is also demanding for a moratorium on all Sarawak dam construction
and for Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), a key player in the development, to
sack its chairman, Hamed Abdul Sepawi.
BMF also wants SEB to declare its finances, contracts and funders.
It is also exerting pressure on foreign corporations, which it
alleged were closely linked to Taib’s global business empire, to shun
the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)
It claimed “any involvement in Taib government’s hydropower programme
is inextricably linked to corruption, environmental damage and human
In a report released today entitled “Sold Down the River. How Sarawak
Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia’s Indigenous Peoples”, BMF
disclosed that many of companies involved were closely linked to Taib
and to his family-linked Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS).
“Foreign corporate actors, such as Australia’s Hydro Tasmania, Snowy
Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), GHD, the US consultant MWH Global,
Norway’s Norconsult, Germany’s Fichtner and construction companies such
as China’s Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro have concluded a
‘pact with the devil’ and are assisting the Taib government with its dam
projects,” it said.
The report also named the “funding agencies” behind the Sarawak dam
plans to include RHB Bank, EON Bank and AmInvestment Bank alongside
Kuwait Finance House and Kenanga Investment Bank, which is a joint
venture between CMS and Deutsche Bank.
The report further examined the dam plans that form part of SCORE,
which is seen as “Southeast Asia’s most ambitious and most expensive
The project, BMF noted, has a “planned investments of up to US$105 billion by 2030”.
According to BMF, some tens of thousands of indigenous people
affected by the massive project are facing forced displacement from
their traditional lands.
Sarawak has ‘excess’ power
The report noted that under the guise of “development”, the Taib
government is planning to virtually dam all the rivers in the state’s
interior, irrespective of the social and environmental implications.
“The dam plans are being pushed ahead under a cloak of secrecy. If
implemented, they would entail the cultural genocide of a significant
part of Sarawak’s rich indigenous culture,” it said.
A first series of 12 dams is currently being implemented by SEB, which holds monopoly on the state’s power supply.
The report stressed the fact that Sarawak is already facing a “excess power” situation.
“The current peak demand in Sarawak is around 1,000 megawatts (MW)
and is thus far less than the power that can be produced by the recently
completed Bakun dam alone, which, with a capacity of 2400 MW, is Asia’s
largest dam outside China.”
BMF said that the Taib government and SEB, as the implementing
agency, were facing increasing opposition from the affected communities.
“Representatives of SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak network set up to fight
the Taib government’s dam plans, are currently embarking on a tour
“The Hydro Tasmania-out-of-Sarawak tour is aimed at increasing the
pressure on publicly-owned Hydro Tasmania, one of the most important
corporate actors involved in the Sarawak dam plans,” it noted.
On Tuesday, Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the tour aimed to
enlighten Australians on the situation with the dams and urge the
locals to pressure the Australian government into compelling Hydro
Tasmania to rescind its decision to participate in the venture.
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